The English Premier League for 2022/2023 will commence on 6 August 2022 and the final batch of the matches will be played in May 2023. The change in the schedule of the matches for next season has been adjusted to accommodate the FIFA World Cup which is slated to be held in Qatar in November 2022.
In view of the World Cup hosted by Qatar will be held during the winter months, the Premier League will break from mid-November and will resume in the last week of December. The final of the FIFA World Cup is expected to be held on 18 December. 2022. Having said that, the biggest football bookmakers have been busy, promoting and compiling odds for the Premier League with some of the usual suspects like Manchester City and Liverpool taking the betting lead.
Recently the English Premier League fixtures also saw some disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns which kept football grounds and stands closed for a number of months. This brought the condensation of the last term of games after the British health authorities gave the “green light” for the resumption of sports activities. It resumed with the playing of games with empty stands but eventually, the fans were allowed back to watch their favourite teams albeit away from their sofas and televisions.
In a way, one can argue that the break in the Premier League schedule served as an experience and best practice for the staggering number of games next season due to the World Cup.
Those players picked up to represent the English national team will have about eight days to prepare with the national team before they head to Qatar to participate in the World Cup. Mission accomplished in Qatar, the players will have a further one week to recover from their feat in Qatar and resume their duties in the English Premier League.
Although the Premier League for next season will have to be staggered into two parts, League One and Two will not be affected and are expected to continue their standard schedule as per past seasons.
Playing in the FIFA World Cup during the European winter months met with stiff opposition throughout a number of countries including England. Many stated that breaking their national leagues mid-way through the season when the teams and players are at their peak form, is a bad idea. Others argued that they are concerned about the welfare of their players as well as the fans missing the most exciting months in English football. It is obvious that the period between November and January is crucial for teams battling to win the title and others struggling to avoid relegation. It is also an essential period for clubs participating in the final stages of European competitions like the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League.
In essence, what the change brings to the teams and players is somewhat perplexing. Players will have to undergo gruelling pre-season training with their respective clubs; one week for the players to prepare with their national team; head to Qatar to play in the World Cup and; another week to prepare before the resumption of the Premier League. In addition, those players not playing in the World Cup will lose much of the game and play practice of competitive football.
For those teams which have the number of their players chosen to play for their national teams and this is not limited to English players, will get back from the World Cup fully exhausted and probably carrying some form of injury. This precarious situation will definitely impact top teams like Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal. All these teams are considered to be the main contenders for the Premiership title next season.
On the other hand, teams that have no players or minimal call-ups for the national teams may have a window of opportunity to perform better in the English Premier League next season. This may reflect positively on clubs of the like of West Ham, Leicester City, Aston Villa, and other mid-table clubs.
Despite these drawbacks, Manchester City will probably remain the team to beat and the best placed to win the Premier League next season. Under the guidance of their Spanish manager, Pep Guardiola, Manchester City is not expected to make any drastic changes to their squad. This means that the team will basically remain the same; remain compact and the players already familiar with the manager’s football philosophy and what is expected of each player on the pitch. The fact that Manchester City is dawning with a long list of players playing for their national team in the World Cup may hinder their march towards another Premiership title. Particularly if returning players from Qatar are tired and injured.
Liverpool is another big club composed of top-class international players. Like Manchester United, they will be hugely affected given that a number of the players will be participating in the World Cup. Past injuries like the one to Virgil van Dijk substantially affected Liverpool’s performances last season.
It may be argued that injury problems have impacted more strongly on Liverpool than it did on other teams like Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. The case may be that the formation of the whole Liverpool squad is a bit inferior to the other teams although the nucleus of the team is very strong.
Under the leadership of their German coach, Jurgen Klopp, the Merseyside teams seem well geared to continue to perform well in the English Premier League and will surely be vying for the title next season.
Chelsea has improved immensely under the management of Thomas Tuchel. The return of Romelo Lukaku together with fresh tactical ideas and the experience gained by Tuchel when he managed Paris St. Germain, seem to have the right ingredients and formula to make Chelsea another strong challenger to the Premiership title next year. Again, Chelsea will suffer from the same perils as other top clubs considering that they too will have a number of players called up for their respective national teams and playing in the World Cup.
Beyond the challenges of having tired and injured players, Chelsea has another important hurdle to surmount. The situation between Russia and Ukraine has prompted their current owner to put the club on the market. Until the sale deal is done and sealed, this situation will have a direct impact on the coaching staff, players and the performance of the team on the pitch next season. There is also speculation whether the new owners will have the financial punch to keep investing in the team or whether they will be less determined to invest with the possibility that Chelsea will not remain a top club in England and Europe.
Other possible contenders for the title include Manchester United and Arsenal. This season both teams have had their ups and downs and consistency was lacking. Manchester United changed their manager but it seems that the desired results will not be achieved. The Gunners from North London have had their share of problems with their manager and his football tactics. Although both teams have the potential to re-arm for next season, they need to work hard and invest properly to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool.